Well it was too gusty to Cross Country – didn’t even think of taking off. So we went up and bucketed around flying stalls and steep turns and really trying to lock the plane in. Also moved onto a little more commercial with Autopilot use and slaving it to the Directional Gyro. While I understand this not part of Private Pilot I can tell you now this is a lifesaver if you accidently fly into IMC. 3 hours hood time makes you JUST proficient at keeping a plane level and flying a standard rate turn to get back out a cloud. But REAL WORLD your workload jumps enormously as you make the mistake going into a cloud and have to suddenly transition to instruments. A lot of people who accidently go into cloud without instrument RATING tend not to live. They are quickly spatially disoriented and spiral in….
With an autopilot – even just a wing leveler/heading unit – as you find yourself in a cloud you punch the autopilot on and your wings are leveled – you still have to deal with pitch but that is now a lot easier. Roll causes spirals and spins so level wings just saved your hide. Now you set the heading marker on the DG to straight ahead. Punch “Heading” on the autopilot and then turn the heading bug 180 degrees on the Directional Gyro. The Autopilot will now fly a standard rate turn towards the heading bug and fly you back the way you came in. It is a complete lifesaver.
So of course climbing out of New Bedford in a bucket load of turbulence and needing to get the weather at Providence I punched the autopilot wing lever on the climb while I wrote down the weather. A sigh and a smile from my instructor – “I shouldn’t have shown you that. Let’s face it – it is exactly what I would do – but don’t do it in front of your examiner on your PPL! Hand fly the plane throughout”.
So we got down. Went through the syllabus. The game plan is now:
- Solo 50 miles to a single airport with three full stop landings at a controlled tower at the other end and come home. (My little 5 airport jaunt the other day means I’ve actually met the airport landing requirement – I just need the solo flight)
- Solo minimum of 100 miles landing at a total of three points – one segment at least 50 miles
- Lessons 23, 24 and 25 in stage III – we have already covered. If there are days I cannot solo because of weather – I can go up and fly bits again if I want more time and proficiency.
- Stage III Flight Check from school
- Lessons to fine tune anything arising on the Stage III check ride.
- FAA Written paper (I’ve started revising)
- Examiner – Check Ride
I’m not counting my chickens – and the amount of material to revise is monumental – but I can see some light at the end of the tunnel.